How Klan Lawyer Sam Dickson Got Rich
The former Klan lawyer from Atlanta has always been interested in money. What's remarkable is how he's been able to earn it.
by Alexander Zaitchik
Deborah Hobson has seen Dickson the Bull charge. In 1993, Hobson's mother and father died within a month of each other. They left no will, but Hobson didn't think she needed a piece of paper to tell her that she and her two sisters had rights to her mother's "shotgun shack" at 76 Ormond Street in southwest Atlanta. Hobson paid the taxes on the land until 1995, when she fell behind. In September, 2003, Sam Dickson bought the tax deed on the south Atlanta property for $7,000.
Here began Deborah Hobson's self-described "nightmare."
Within days of acquiring the deed, Dickson approached Hobson about buying her interest in the property. She was entertaining the idea of selling, she says, until she realized that Dickson had no intention of offering anything near fair market value; his first offer was $1,500 on a lot worth between $35,000 and $60,000. She told him that she did not want to sell the land. Instead, she would try to pull together the money needed to redeem the tax deed and retain all her pre-existing rights to the property, possibly by cracking open her 401(k) account.
That's not what Sam Dickson wanted to hear. Hobson says that he stepped up pressure on her and her sisters to sell the property at once, telling them to forget ever trying to pay his bill. Unable to convince Deborah Hobson, Dickson began contacting her sisters independently, playing one off the other, whispering that their family spokesperson in the matter, Deborah, did not have their best interest at heart and was costing them money.
At one point, Dickson even tracked down a Hobson sister at the hospital where she was being treated for a head injury. He suggested he come down and she sign the papers then and there.
"When we refused to sell, he got aggressive. He was relentless. I felt like I was being stalked," remembers Deborah Hobson. "I considered trying to get my Cingular Wireless records and suing him for harassment."
"He'd leave these threatening letters on my door," says Hobson. "They'd say, 'I know you're bitter because you lost your land, but you aren't going to get it back so you might as well take what you can get.' It was like, how dare we question him! He's a liar and a snake in the grass."
Worn down and eager to be rid of Dickson, the Hobson sisters hired a lawyer to sell their property to someone else. The other buyer offered them more than Dickson — but still less than what the property was worth — but by then money was no longer the sisters' main concern.
"It got so ugly that we took the path of least resistance," explains Deborah Hobson. "We still didn't get fair market value, but I would have given it away just to keep that evil man from getting his hands on my mother's house."
It was after months of dealing with Dickson and his associates that Hobson learned of her suitor's Klan connections and extreme views on race. After running an Internet search on Dickson, she was furious and horrified.
"I started to have nightmares about him," she says. "I couldn't believe this man was coming to my home, that I ever talked business with him. It will always haunt me."
Weaned on Hate
Samuel Glasgow Dickson was born in Atlanta in 1947, the son of a Presbyterian minister. He was a precocious, right-wing youth. At 14 years old, he argued against the integration of his liberal Presbyterian Church; by 16, he had become an active Goldwater conservative -- anti-Communist and pro-states' rights. At the University of Georgia in the late '60s, Dickson was elected president of the Young Republicans and state chair of Young Americans for Freedom, a national Golderwaterite organization founded by William F. Buckley in 1960.
Dickson graduated from UGA Law in 1972 and set up a general practice in Atlanta. Throughout the '70s and '80s, Dickson would offer legal counsel to the Georgia Ku Klux Klan and establish relationships with white supremacists around the world, particularly in Britain. In 1978, he ran on a segregationist platform for lieutenant governor, garnering 11% of the vote.
Along with fighting liberals and integration at home, Dickson fought left-wing forces abroad. Most notably, he belonged to the Council on American Affairs, the American branch of the World Anti-Communist League, a global network of cold warriors that financed anti-left operations around the world. The league provided arms and cash to militias and rebel movements from Guatemala to Afghanistan, often outside the limits of U.S. and international law.
With the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Dickson became what he calls "a great Russophile" and dedicated himself to the preservation and exaltation of the white race, under siege from Miami to Moscow. Freed from the trappings of American patriotism implicit in the cold warrior's pose, Dickson became a full-fledged antigovernment white nationalist.
Dickson's post-Cold War efforts to save the white race have consisted largely of intellectual exercises. Although he belongs to the Council of Conservative Citizens -- a hate group with ties to some elected GOP officials that is the contemporary incarnation of the pro-segregation White Citizens Councils -- and was a close personal friend of the late leader of the far-right British National Party, John Tyndall, Dickson himself prefers the lectern and the study to the soapbox. (Occasionally, though, he will still take to the courtroom. In 1996, he filed a suit against an Atlanta suburb that sought to ban the flying of the Confederate stars and bars during a parade associated with the Olympics.)
His most regular appearances over the last 15 years have been his lectures at the biannual conference of American Renaissance, the journal addressing "racial differences and their consequences," launched by Jared Taylor in 1991. The pseudo-academic monthly gives a genteel sheen and articulate voice to what is essentially a racist vision of ethnically "pure" states. Dickson's keynote AR speech of May 2006 bemoaned the state of crisis in which the white race found itself, nowhere more so than in America.
"There comes a time," declared Dickson, "when the crisis is such that only a Corsican lieutenant can restore things." (The reference is to Napoleon Bonaparte, who crowned himself emperor of France.) Dickson went on to argue that his "old friend" David Duke's strong showing in the 1991 Louisiana governor's race — "better than Hitler" -- during a period of relative prosperity bodes well. We merely await, Dickson said, an economic catastrophe: "The worse the better. Let the bad times roll. That will be our opportunity."
When the bad times roll, they are unlikely to hurt Sam Dickson much. According to Fulton County records, the list of liens in Dickson's name totals more than 200. That fact will do much to keep him out of harm's way when the white race's catastrophic "opportunity" rolls around.
To be exact, it will place him in Key West, Fla., where Dickson owns a home and plans to retire.
But not just yet.